China’s trade with North Ko­rea up by more than 10% since Jan­uary

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Fang Cheng and Ben Blan­chard

CHINA’S trade with iso­lated North Ko­rea rose more than 10 per­cent in the Jan­uary-June pe­riod from a year ear­lier, a Chi­nese of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day, amid pres­sure from the US for Bei­jing to pres­surise its trou­ble­some neigh­bour.

Last week US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­nounced China’s trade with North Ko­rea, say­ing it had grown al­most 40 per­cent in the first quar­ter, and cast doubt on whether Bei­jing was help­ing to counter the threat from North Ko­rea.

China has re­peat­edly said it was fully en­forc­ing UN sanc­tions on nu­clear-armed North Ko­rea and there was noth­ing wrong with what it terms “nor­mal” trade with Py­ongyang, re­fer­ring to ar­eas not cov­ered by sanc­tions.

Chi­nese cus­toms spokesper­son Huang Song­ping told a brief­ing on China’s over­all trade fig­ures that to­tal trade with North Ko­rea ex­panded by 10.5 per­cent to $2.55 bil­lion (R34.10bn) in the first six months of the year.

While China’s im­ports from North Ko­rea dropped 13.2 per­cent to $880 mil­lion in the pe­riod from Jan­uary to June, ex­ports to North Ko­rea rose 29.1 per­cent to $1.67bn, he said.

The ex­ports were largely driven by tex­tile prod­ucts and other tra­di­tional labour-in­ten­sive goods not in­cluded on the UN em­bargo list, Huang added.

“As neigh­bours, China and North Ko­rea main­tain nor­mal busi­ness and trade ex­changes,” he said, adding that goods for or­di­nary peo­ple and those used for hu­man­i­tar­ian rea­sons are not sub­ject to sanc­tions. Over­all trade growth with North Ko­rea slowed in June, com­pared with pre­vi­ous sec­ond-quar­ter months. Trade in dol­lar terms with North Ko­rea rose about 12 per­cent in June from a month ear­lier to $499m, ac­cord­ing to cal­cu­la­tions based on pre­vi­ously re­leased data. The cal­cu­la­tions do not re­flect re­vi­sions to ear­lier fig­ures that may not have been an­nounced.

In May, trade with North Ko­rea gained 14.5 per­cent from April to $443.5m, pre­vi­ously re­leased cus­toms data show.

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